After an unsatisfying 2018 in which the Packers missed the playoffs for the 2nd time in a row, they made a bold move after firing coach Mike McCarthy by bringing in former Falcons QB Coach Matt LaFleur, while also firing GM Ted Thompson in favor of Brian Gutekunst.
LaFleur is a 39-year-old offensive guru that has Aaron Jones leading the NFL in rushing TDs (in one less game than everyone else) and Aaron Rodgers firing on all cylinders again – leading to a 4-1 record – with their only loss coming to the Eagles in a nailbiter. Even though Matt Ryan is a statistically superior QB to Rodgers (probably because playing from behind forces you to throw a lot more), Rodgers has elite mobility and arm talent. Aaron Jones has a very similar rushing style to Devonta Freeman. Both offenses feature a big tight end (Jimmy Graham & Austin Hooper) and a star wide receiver (Davante Adams & Julio Jones). The most significant disparities between these two offenses? The Falcons have a better supporting cast of wideouts, and Green Bay’s line is far superior, featuring David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga. Other than that, these teams are pretty similar on the offensive side of the ball.
So what about defense? Well, after blowing it up, Green Bay went on a spending spree, bringing in low cost veterans and long-term signings, filling enormous gaps in their otherwise terrible defense. They added Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos and drafted Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage to completely revamp this unit. Gary has had a slow start, but all of these guys have contributed to the Packers now 13th ranked pass defense. Their run defense is still an issue (sound familiar?), but they’re 4th in interceptions, 13th in sacks, and 6th in total points allowed (Falcons are last in sacks & points allowed). The difference is, Atlanta just needs to plug holes because the foundation is already there. Consequently, the Falcons have less money to spend on free agents, but with Vic Beasley’s $13 million coming off the books and other cuts/trades on the horizon after a 1-5 start, there could be a little wiggle room for improvements this offseason.
Finding a GM with the right vision is paramount. Drafting another young star for the defense is a step in the right direction. With everyone locked up, filling out this roster with draft picks that can contribute right away is going to be vital, along with Chris Lindstrom returning healthy and contributing. Kaleb McGary has played every snap for the last three games and hasn’t been whistled for a hold yet. He looks like a promising building block. With a top ten pick looming, the Falcons can’t afford to whiff on any of these. Green Bay has seen massive dividends from Darnell Savage, Jaire Alexander, Aaron Jones, Kevin King, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, which is why they are back in the hunt for another Super Bowl.
So what does this have to do with the Falcons? They need to see Green Bay’s vision.
- Replace the entire coaching staff with a young offensive minded guru.
- Fire Thomas Dimitroff.
- Fill the roster with low-cost vets who can contribute. The Falcons have failed to do this a lot in the past and passing on guys like Ziggy Ansah and Gerald McCoy for less than what we pay Vic Beasley is unforgivable.
- Find a GM who doesn’t constantly whiff in the later rounds.
The Packers went through the same thing (though not as extreme). A star QB with an incompetent coach isn’t going to get you very far. Green Bay is a different club with a new lease on life, and Atlanta needs to follow in their footsteps.